Monday, February 25, 2013

Response and Recap of Feb. 2013 Oscars for movies in 2012

Mike and I made a nice homemade dinner and a “cruelty-free” peach oatmeal dessert, and then sat through the three and a half hour long Oscars show.  We spent a long time sitting on our couch last night, but in the end it was well worth it.  People on Facebook complained that the show was running much too long, but I sided with the people that said that the song and dance numbers were fabulous, making the length of the show bearable. 

I remember that one year they left out all song and dance numbers, and it was such a boring show.  Last night, we were treated to Shirley Bassey singing a spectacular rendition of “Goldfinger,”  Adele singing her Oscar winning song from “Skyfall,” and a very touching moment by Barbra Streisand, singing “The Way We Were” for the In Memoriam sequence.  Mike and I saw and heard  a bubbly and funny Marvin Hamlisch conduct music to the movies at Ravinia Festival last year just before he passed away, so hearing Barbra sing his song at a rare Oscar appearance brought tears to our eyes.  We love Marvin’s work on “A Chorus Line” making it an even more poignant moment.

Catherine Zeta-Jones singing “All That Jazz” from “Chicago” was sexy, and sultry but was it necessary?

The “Les Miserables” cast performance was great, makes we want to buy the DVD someday! I’m so glad that Anne Hathaway won for playing the saintly, and wretched Fantine in “Les Miserables.”  We need movies that make us feel sympathy for the very poor of society, and the world, which is why I liked “Beasts of the Southern Wild.”  Quvenzhane Wallis is such a sweet, smart, and thoughtful little girl, and the youngest nominee in Oscar history so far. 

In the end, Life of Pi was the big winner, winning only four Oscars, making it a night where Oscars were handed out to very many of the films nominated.  It could be that the films this year are just too excellent to not give an Oscar too, so no one movie walked away with multiple Oscars.  Lincoln disappointedly only won two Oscars of the 12 nominations!  Mike and I wanted Lincoln to at least win for Best Score, because the Chicago Symphony Orchestra recorded the music to “Lincoln,” as composed by John Williams.  We love the CSO!

“Argo” won Best Picture, probably because of the notorious Ben Affleck snub for Best Director.  It’s a well written, highly dramatized account of true story, where potty mouthed government agents come off as great American heroes.  I could do without some of the Islamaphobia in that film, but, in the end, the film does make an unpredictable movie industry seem capable of great diplomacy. 

Jennifer Lawrence winning Best Actress for “Silver Linings Playbook” is heartwarming, but we loved how her character never gave up on her bi-polar friend, believing he’s capable of great love.  With a support from family and friends, therapy, and a little medication, people dealing with mental health issues can cope, heal, and lead fairly stable lives.  That movie left me with a great message!

Daniel Day-Lewis gave both funniest and well-spoken speech of the night, saying he could’ve played Magaret Thatcher, and Meryl Streep could’ve played Lincoln.  His graceful nod to the mind, body and spirit of Abraham Lincoln was as dignified as the movie “Lincoln” is.  It helps to know he is the son of poet named Cecil Day-Lewis.  We need more dignity in American films!

Michelle Obama’s surprise and dignified Oscar appearance via satellite was a pleasant surprise.  I loved her Art Deco inspired lovely dress.  She is a woman of great class, and taste.  Her ideas of what movies do to change us for the better was very well spoken and smart.

Someone who missed being “well spoken” or “dignified” was the host Seth McFarlane, whose partly sexist jokes like the “We saw your boobs” song, made many Actresses cringe with discomfort.  Some of his jokes went stale fast, but Mike and I agreed that he was at least funnier than James Franco.  Yet, he was not as pretty and as charming as Anne Hathaway.  His best moments were when he stayed serious like during the Charlize Theron-Channing Tatum dance.  Graceful and elegant dancing too!  Some people online were a bit outraged by the celebrity roast jokes at seemed to spill out of Seth’s mouth haphazardly.  His saying Daniel Day-Lewis got into Lincoln’s mind like John Wilkes Booth, made the audience boo him!  Not the worst host ever, as William Shatner predicted, but not the nicest ever either.

Mike and I were surprised that Quentin Tarantino won for Best Original Screenplay for “Django Unchained.”  Quentin was actually polite, and charming in his speech, saying that this is the year for good writers!  Quentin giving the peace fingers was nice

Another surprise was Ang Lee winning Best Director for Life of Pi.  He thanked  people in Taiwan in his speech that helped make the movie.  Ang Lee is a great man, who believes that any story is not impossible to film.

In the end, we were only slightly disappointed that some of our picks did not win.  We wanted “How To Survive a Plague” to win best documentary, because it is about an issue important to us, the AIDS crisis.  Mike and I wanted Tommy Lee Jones to win for Lincoln too.  I still think Tony Kushner’s script for “Lincoln” is pure genius, putting such poetic words in the mouths of his characters.  We obviously wanted Lincoln to win more!

Amusingly, we both said “Les Miserables” would win for Make Up and Hairstyling, even though Mike said Hugh Jackman’s hair looked like a dog with mange in that movie, at least at the beginning of the film.  We laughed, and said, “mange hair” wins Oscar!

I wasn’t surprised that the Oscars strayed away from the “torture” controversy of “Zero Dark Thirty,” only giving it an Oscar in Sound Editing. 

We got through the Oscars this year by drinking sugar free Rita Hayworth margaritas.  Why Rita Hayworth?  Because she was really Spanish, British-Irish, American, and her real name is Margarita.  Someone told me that the drink was named after her.  So that makes sense.

Everyone looked very tasteful and elegant this year.  Queen Latifah looked like a Greek Goddess!

It was a good year for the Oscars, too bad we didn’t Outguess Ebert again, and win some prizes.  But there is always next year.  As Ebert signed in one of my books, “See you at the movies!”  Thanks.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

My response to Zero Dark Thirty and Silver Linings Playbook, and the issues approached in those films

A couple more of my Facebook movie reviews:

Mike and I saw an early showing of “Zero Dark Thirty” at the Davis Theater in Chicago yesterday, and there were things we liked and disliked about this film.  The depiction of torture in this film has left many critics wondering if this movie is responsible enough about its stand on the use of torture.  Are we a gang of vengeful bloodthirsty agents who want to take down terrorists by any means necessary, or are there more humane forms of getting information out of suspects.  I would call this movie partially irresponsible, but yet we see Obama on a tv screen taking a stand against torture in the military.  When torture becomes prohibited by Obama, then we get to see objectively what really happened in the process to capture Osama bin Laden.  It’s harrowing to watch, yes, but necessary because much of it is based on true events.  Many critics have called it a masterpiece of war drama, and it is brilliantly told in exciting dialogue, but I had mixed feelings about calling these potty mouthed agents American “heroes” or “heroines.”  I’m on the side that says “you don’t have to become a monster to stop a monster,” but I was relieved as anyone else with the capture of bin Laden.  Closure yes, but feeling like terrorism will end, no.  This senseless war is costing us too much already, and we need to stop and count our blessings, and hope a war like this never happens again.  Also, the high level of Islamaphobia in this movie made me very uncomfortable, and made me almost feel like these people can’t be trusted, but that is racism to me.  The truth we need to educate ourselves on human rights issues, like reading the Universal Declarations of Human Rights, so that we realize what these violent films are trying to do to us.  We must not let us become morally irresponsible to torture,  and we must take a stand to see the full truth of the matter.  This movie has some violent scary moments that are situated in true events, but we need to watch carefully to take a stand against extreme torture, and defend human rights of innocent people.  Peace, Human Rights, Equality, and Best Wishes, Ruben and Mike.

Mike and I saw “Silver Linings Playbook” and we both liked it quite a bit.  All the performances are very good in this movie, and this unique approach to the romantic comedy, made them nominate it for 8 Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director.  Argo and Zero Dark Thirty were not nominated for Best Director, but this “comedy drama” is.  Why are critics all saying good things about this movie?  I think it’s because it takes a touchy issue like Bi Polar Disorder or Mental Health, and makes us feel that people with Mental Illness have a chance of getting their life together, and staying stable if given the chance, and with a little help from therapy and medication.  Another issue in the movie, shows how ex-husbands can become obsessed and stalk their ex-wives at uncomfortable levels.  Bradley Cooper’s character was difficult to watch because of his obsessive determination to get back with his ex-wife, yet his parents and friends love give him hope to go on, because his friends and family would not give up on him.  Will this movie win Best Picture?  I don’t think so, but it’s a brave little story about Bi Polar Disorder in the middle class, that it deserves attention by all classes.  It could win an Oscar for writing, I suppose. Also, I still think My Cherie Amour is a very sweet song, and how they used football “Playbooks” in the movie is very witty and unique.  Peace, and Best Wishes, Ruben and Mike.
Sincerely, Ruben Santos Claveria

Thursday, January 10, 2013

My response to the Oscar Nominations for the 2013 Oscars for films in 2012

The Oscar nominations for films in 2012, were announced today.  Mike and I have seen five of the films nominated for Best Picture, because we read good reviews about them by Roger Ebert at  “Lincoln” is Mike’s favorite movie of last year, and I loved Les Miserables. 

Many people online are surprised that Tom Hooper was not given a Best Director nomination for “Les Miserables,” and Kathryn Bigelow was not nominated for Best Director for Zero Dark Thirty.  Other snubs that stood out were: Marion Cotillard not being nominated for Rust and Bone; Leonardo Dicaprio was not nominated for “Django Unchained,” and “Cloud Atlas” was ignored.  These award ceremonies always leave somebody out, which is why no one is ever completely happy with them.  I only like them because they have made me watch some very interesting films, that I otherwise would have passed up.  People on Facebook called the Oscars a selfish venture of the industry, and many people did not like some of the films nominated, one calling “Lincoln” a “snooze fest.” 

Yet, when you are surprised by great performances like Quvenzhane Wallis as Hushpuppie in “Beasts of the Southern Wild” and Anne Hathaway in “Les Miserables,” and Daniel Day Lewis in “Lincoln,” and Suraj Sharma as Pi in “Life of Pi,”  it makes it all worth it somehow.  Although many films that get nominated won’t get watched more than once, because of difficult subject matter, other films like “Les Miserables” are worth repeated viewings because you want to learn the music enough to sing the melodies to yourself, if you love singing that is. 

I’ve heard good things about “Silver Linings Playbook” and plan to watch it since someone in all the acting categories was nominated for that film.  I also want to see “Amour,” a movie that surprised people with five nominations.  Emmanuelle Riva, at 85, is the oldest Best Actress nominee for “Amour,” and Quvenzhane Wallis, at 9, is the youngest Best Actress nominee for “Beasts,” and they are both competing for the same award! 

A lot that you need to learn about life, you can learn from great movies, with great stories, which is why “Lincoln” and “Life of Pi” and “Beasts” all deserve their nominations.  The competition is very tough, and it’s hard to pick the winners, but I think Lincoln should win the most awards, because of the great script by Gay Playwright, Tony Kushner.  It’s award winning dialogue.

I think “Les Miserables” should win for Production or Set Design, and “Life of Pi” for Cinematography and Special Effects. 

I want Anne Hathaway to win for “Les Miserables,” but, like I said, the competition is tough.  Mike and I both think that Daniel Day Lewis will take home the Oscar for “Lincoln,” and maybe Tommy Lee Jones for “Lincoln,” too. 

The awards are in February this year, a little over a month away, making it difficult to watch all the movies nominated.  Sometimes we wait to see who wins in certain categories, like sound, costume, and music, to see the film. 

There are some great films out there with great messages, and I’m glad we get to see them all.  Some movies with bad reviews, that people say is difficult, and not interesting to watch, like "The Master" we'll probably pass up, but with all those nominations, maybe it'll be worth a watch on video.  Some movies are now on video, like "Beasts," "Brave," "Moonrise Kingdom," and others.  It's all a matter of taste.

Peace, and Best Wishes, Ruben and Mike.